Most people get excited that Friday is here, especially if the week has been hectic and packed. But often Fridays can seem like a waste (especially before holidays). Your brain, in anticipation of the time off, just says: I have had enough! Bring on the downtime. Then the afternoon just drags on and on.
You don't get a lot of help from your colleagues because the afternoon Friday lull is a commonly shared experience. Everyone's already thinking about the weekend and ready to go home, so productivity drops. But instead of giving in to the impulse to window-gaze and daydream, you can take the opportunity to get next week off to an awesome start. Here are seven ways:
1. Set up some exciting contacts. Give yourself something to look forward to. Spend the afternoon emailing new prospects or perhaps mentors. Set up a lunch for next week that makes you anticipate good things to come. People may be slow to reply since it's Friday afternoon, but in the worst case you'll come back Monday to some positive responses.
2. Organize the week. Go through next week's calendar and plan out the entire week. Set reminder alarms on your computer or smartphone calendar. Include all meetings, deadlines, and to-do items. Lay out a specific task list with apportioned hours. You'll clear your mind of that nagging feeling that you forgot something and have a truly relaxing weekend, leaving you happier on Monday.
3. Get one thing off your desk. Fridays are the time when it's most tempting to look at projects and tasks and say, "Oh, I'll just pick it back up Monday." So choose one of your ongoing projects and commit to getting it done before you leave. The satisfaction of accomplishment may even motivate you to do more today. And next Monday, you'll have the relief of knowing that task won't be on your desk to taunt you.
4. Shake up your routine. Reflect for a few moments on your usual weekly routine. Make a list of your typical distractions, the habits and stressors that keep you from starting the workweek with a bang. This can be "chatting about the weekend over coffee with officemates," "reading the accumulated junk e-mail on my laptop," or "hiding from my annoying boss or colleague." Make a list and then write down what you will do instead. Create a new routine that's uplifting and energizing. Put it where you will see it first thing Monday morning.
5. Work on your future. If you feel you simply can't push any more paper for your company today, put on some inspiring music and spend a little time writing some thoughts about your current career and life. Are you working toward your preferred future? Do you know where you want to be in five years? Make some notes and take them with you to consider over the weekend. When you come back Monday, you may have some clarity to help you decide how to spend your week--or whether it is time to start looking for new opportunities.
6. Surprise yourself. Hide some small treat in your desk drawer or file cabinet. It could be a gourmet chocolate bar, a $10 iTunes card, a new scented candle, or another little indulgence you like. Put it there Friday afternoon and you'll have something delightful to look forward to on your return. The best part is when you forget all about it and make a startling, pleasant discovery during the week. It's kind of like your very own Easter egg hunt.
7. End the week on a high. Plan to show someone your appreciation. Pick someone in your office who has been extra helpful this week, done a fantastic job on a project, gone above and beyond, or been everyone's ray of sunshine. Plan a nice gesture such as a thoughtfully worded thank-you email, a small bunch of flowers, or a gift card to the recipient's favorite coffee place. (If there's anything to purchase, make sure you do it on Sunday night so you're not running late.) Execute your gesture of gratitude after you arrive Monday morning. You'll be excited all weekend about making that person's week start out with a bang!
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